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Sweet and Sour inspiration from Nan


Jack Rooke: Good Grief, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington, May 20.

Comedian, presenter and writer Jack Rooke credits an unusual creative source for his debut show, Good Grief - his 85-year-old Nan Sicely.

Good Grief blends comedy, storytelling and film to explore how we treat the bereaved, while challenging proposed welfare cuts for bereaved families and celebrating finding happiness after tragedy. And it all began with a chat over sweet and sour chicken balls in his Nan's council flat.

Rooke's one-hour show kicks off the 2017 national touring programme for Soho Theatre, for whom he developed Good Grief under their scheme to discover and nurture new writers and artists. It was a hit of the 2015 Edinburgh Festival and has since been adapted for BBC Radio 4.

Rooke himself is no stranger to bereavement, losing his father to cancer as a teenager and a close friend to suicide two years ago. He is now the resident on-air expert in mental health and bereavement for BBC Radio 1 and is an ambassador for the male suicide prevention charity CALM.

His Happy Man, a new three-part series for BBC Radio 3 on mental health, identity and body image, is now available on iplayer and his follow-up stage show, Happy Hour, will go to the Edinburgh Festival this summer.

Of Good Grief, he says, "It started in my Nan's council flat over some sweet and sour chicken balls and has bizarrely achieved any dream I had for it. I hope this encourages people to eat sweet and sour chicken balls and chat with their Nan more often."

Tickets are available from 01926 334418 and online at www.royalspacentreandtownhall.co.uk.

Winner!